From top: UK Prime Minister Theresa May as England football manager Gareth Southgate in yesterday’s The Sun after comparing her Brexit task to his team’s World Cup ambitions; Dan Boyle
Whatever about the emotional wrench of supporting an England team during the World Cup, it was an easier leap to accept that with Gareth Southgate as its manager.
The country has as manager of its national team, someone who is decent and likeable, and with whose personality the idea of liking the Sassenach becomes more bearable.
England sees itself in a period redistributive karma at the moment. Its football team is, last night’s semi-final defeat notwithstanding, enjoying its greatest period of success since 1966 (apparently they won something then).
Meanwhile the flames of Brexit continue to engulf the country.
For decades the English football team has been the torch bearer for the irrational exuberance Brexit has come to represent.
England thought itself entitled to win tournaments. Failure was usually put down to cheating foreigners, and/or a World set against the plucky Brits.
The more obvious failings were ignored. The exaggerated ability of players. The inability to blend conflicting egos into a team. The ongoing fantasy that to be the best in the World, required style more than substance.
These fantasies became embedded through a rotten British media that equated sporting endeavour with jingoism. A media whose elevation of the obscure and the bizarre were portrayed as equal elements to the football.
An example of this was the promotion of the WAG culture. The better the ‘bird’ you scored, the better you were perceived as a footballer.
Tired of the fifty years of hurt, the British media turned to Brexit to restore its nostalgia fix. Instead of Britain ruling the waves, we now had cheerleaders for Britain waiving the rules.
A new cast of cosseted foot in the mouth ballers were unveiled – Johnson, Gove, Rees Mogg. While their sexual exploits weren’t being recorded, they were achieving orgasmic delight, with miles of newsprint and mounds of airwaves being expended on their behalf.
Logic, consistency, informed consent were unimportant to this debate. What mattered was that the right boxes were being ticked – sovereignty, getting our country back, control of immigration.
Nor did it matter how this was to be achieved, or what would be the impact from the resultant changes. Two years after the result of the Brexit referendum, and less than nine months away from when leaving the EU is meant to happen, the absurdities of Brexit are continuing to stockpile.
Meanwhile, away from the glare of the spotlight, the English World Cup campaign exceeded expectations. Some encumbrances have been removed. Largely, though, it seems to have been the introduction of real values, inspired by Southgate, that have benefited the team.
Diligence and determination had a far greater effect than the entitlement of old. We should be applauding the endeavour and the absence of hubris.
In the meantime Brexit Britain implodes. David Davis is taking time out to learn about the intricacies. Boris Johnson has left to spend more time with his ego. Others will follow.
Only one man can save England now, and it isn’t the Sam Allardyce-like figure of Jeremy Corbyn.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle
Top pic montage: The Sun